Food miles soar at hospital

EXPERTS say it is vital to cut down on food miles to help save the planet - but for hospital patients at Felixstowe they are soaring.Instead of arriving from 600 yards away, their meals are now travelling 70 miles each day!

EXPERTS say it is vital to cut down on food miles to help save the planet - but for hospital patients at Felixstowe they are soaring.

Instead of arriving from 600 yards away, their meals are now travelling 70 miles each day!

Meals used to be cooked by a chef and his team of four at the kitchens at the Bartlet Hospital on Bath Hill, but now the former convalescent unit has closed, its kitchens have shut, too, and the staff made redundant.

Now it is meals-on-wheels for the patients in Felixstowe Community Hospital with all food prepared by an outside caterer and driven from Cambridge each day - and then heated up at the hospital.

The only food which can be prepared on site is porridge and hot drinks.

But health chiefs have defended the decision to stop cooking meals at the hospital and say it will mean better choice for patients.

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They have refused to say how much the new service will cost compared with the old kitchens, but it is understood to be less.

A spokesman for the Primary Care Trust said: “We've kept staff informed at every stage of the changes at Felixstowe.

“The kitchen staff have done sterling work at the Bartlet and we are grateful for all their hard work.

“The new kitchen at the community hospital has a dishwasher, water heater, freezer and equipment to heat up meals. It is not a professional kitchen.

“Over the next three months we are trialling a company, which is recognised as high quality by other NHS organisations, to provide a wide range of meals for patients at the hospital.

“Staff took part in a taste test of this company's food last week and were very impressed with the results, so we are satisfied the quality will be high.

“Meals are cooked to professional standards off-site and will be delivered seven days a week. It will increase the choice of meals on offer.

“Patients with special diets, such as gluten free, low fat or low potassium, will be well catered for. This is a standard practice in many district hospitals, including Ipswich Hospital.”

Jan Rowsell, Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman, said the hospital had been using outside caterers to prepare the food for sometime and there was “a high level of satisfaction”.

“The food is then heated up on the wards which means it can be given to the patients immediately and at the right temperature rather than travelling from kitchens in some other part of the hospital,” she added.

What is best - food cooked for patients on site, or brought in and heated up? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk